It has officially been one week since I arrived in Robertsport! I have never felt so welcome anywhere in m entire life. Every individual in the Strongheart house is incredible. The fellows (Georgia, Gabriel, Emanuel, Alfonso, Donnett, and Fitzgeral) are motivated, highly intelligent, hilarious, full of energy and so inspiring. I am blessed to be able to spend each day with them. The staff here is what keeps this family together. Esi and Virginia are the housemothers, and Foster and Timothy are like the house uncles. Timmy (not the same person as Timothy-Timmy is the other teacher here) has quickly become an amazing friend to me. He is goofy and adventurous like me so we always find fun things to do at night when the fellows are all out hanging with their friends. I could not feel more comfortable in this house. Oh, and then there is little miss Cori Rose-the 1.5 year-old ray of giggling sunshine sweetness that runs around the house all day. She is the daughter of one of the former fellows who is living in Monrovia at the moment and she is the cutest little thing in the world. There are so many kids in this town. One boy, Momodu, is my new buddy. He is eleven years-old, so smart and fun to run around with. We go on lots of wals together. This morning he came with me to the Baptist church. I have invited to so many churches I think I will be going to a new church every Sunday. It is a good way to meet and spend a good time with new people.
I have met many interesting people here in Robertsport. Whenever I am out walking around, either with Timmy, the fellows, or by myself, people introduce themselves to me, ask me how I am, or invite me so sit on their porch and chat. Yesterday Timmy took me to meet an eighty-year-old woman who lives up at the top of this hill where you can look out and see the ocean and the town. She moved here from Nevada when she was just starting out to teach at a girl’s school. She ended up marrying the principal and pastor of the school. They stayed here for a long time and then went back to the US for about 20 years. In 2004, right after the war had ended, they decided that Robertsport was where they wanted to live the rest of their lives and they came back. Her husband died a couple of years ago and was buried at the very top of the hill next to a rock where all of his senior students used to write their names when they graduated. She is still very active and sharp, and very cool to talk to. I love her story because it is a testament to how special this place is. There is just something about Robertsport that is like nowhere else. Despite a seemingly endless cycle of poverty, people here are kind in every sense of the word. They make eye contact and say hello when they pass one another on the street. They invite a total stranger to come relax in the shade on their porch.
So much has happened in the past week I don’t even know where to start! The fellows have been very responsive to learning about photography. We spent the week learning how to use the cameras, talking about the word of photography, and looking at images of different kinds of photography that they have not yet been exposed to. We decided for the first project to make a stop motion film. We start on Monday! I can’t wait for them to start creating!
As I am getting more and more settled here in town, I am taking more pictures. I am very sensitive to inappropriate photojournalism. I feel it is very rude to just snap pictures of impoverished people just because they are poor. But something awesome happens here every day that is worth documenting. For example, yesterday Gabriel was going to DJ a wedding for one of Esi’s friends, and I went to photograph it. It was VERY cool. As the fellows and I begin to take more pictures, I will be posting them.
There are many reasons why I came here, most of the still unknown. This place has calmed me and connected me to the universe in a very special way. I know that there are places all over the world with landscapes as beautiful as this, but there is no place that can match all of the little pieces that make Robertsport what it is.
I am so happy here.